For the past couple years we’ve been singing the praises of the empty Hawks Building, perched for decades like a shadow between the furthest west points of Jefferson and Madison streets along the east bank of Goshen’s millrace. Once a thriving furniture factory of yesteryear, the Hawks building deteriorated over decades into a sulking beacon of our city’s urban blight.
Today the giant brick building is a beacon of hope and blinking marquee of good things to come for Goshen. Thanks to the extraordinary efforts of the LaCasa Inc. leadership and the Goshen Redevelopment Commission, the southern portion of the historic three-story structure is being converted into the Hawks Arts & Enterprise Center. It will include 35 loft-style apartments to be inhabited by local artisans.
THAT’S PRETTY IMPRESSIVE progress on its own and represents a tremendous effort by the many stakeholders in the community. But the potential of the Hawks development was sweetened even more on June 10 when architect Shane Dyer informed the Redevelopment Commission that the group Hawks 1886 LLC, is interested in buying the north portion of the Hawks building and converting it into a brew pub and 25-room boutique hotel. The Hydraulic Ale Works and Artifax Hotel, Dyer said, would bring with it a $3.8 million investment.
It’s hard for us not to be excited about that prospect. As Goshen’s downtown has emerged into a regional entertainment destination, such a hotel and restaurant seem to be more than just a compliment to what is already working, but a critical next step forward in developing an even more ambitious plan in moving Goshen forward to bigger and better things. Think about what’s missing in downtown Goshen at this moment. That’s right, a hotel. While an interstate cookie-cutter hotel would be wrong for downtown, the personality of a boutique hotel that draws patrons even when its rooms aren’t full, does make sense.